By Nick Mulvenney
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Qualifier Mayar Sherif made a little bit of history in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday when she became the first Egyptian woman to win a main draw match at a Grand Slam.
The 24-year-old, who made her Grand Slam main draw debut at Roland Garros last year, toughed out a 7-5 7-5 win over fellow-qualifier Chloe Paquet on Court Six.
"Obviously it means a lot because finally this is barrier that I had to pass, a mental barrier," Sherif told reporters.
"With the conditions that are here it was very, very tough to adapt to it, especially to adapt my game to it. It took us awhile. Courts are faster, the heat, everything happens so fast, very tough to control the ball.
"Very, very happy with my accomplishment and I'm going for more. That's it."
Sherif, who went to college in the United States and trains in Spain, said being a trailblazer for Egyptian sport had been a motivating factor in her career.
"I feel very supported from the Egyptian people, from my partners, my sponsors," the world number 131 added.
"It's been great, and honestly it's just pushing me forward and forward because I feel that there are so many people behind me."
Sherif, who qualified in Dubai before making her way to Melbourne for quarantine, said she was regularly recognised on the streets back home and hoped to inspire other Egyptians to believe they can succeed in tennis.
"I want them to believe in themselves and to see me and look at me and say that we can be like her," she added.
"When someone tells me, 'Oh, I wish one day to be like you', I go, 'No, you have to be better, you have to achieve something more, you have to go for more'."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Pritha Sarkar)